How ShareGate uses video game technology to engage its audience in latest ad campaign

Better Together ShareGate Microsoft Teams campaign concept of IT character

ShareGate has been helping IT pros adapt to the ever-changing landscape of the Microsoft cloud since 2009. On the marketing side, that means informing our customers of our solutions—often through the magic of video. But what makes for a successful video marketing campaign? 

Over the last 6 years as a ShareGate team member, I’ve been fortunate enough to travel often across the world to meet our customers and community. I’ve always felt a deep appreciation and pride for our product. Still, there’s another thing that continues to come up quite regularly: people telling me how much they loved and appreciated our marketing. 

As a marketing professional, that’s always music to your ears, especially when you put so much love into the work. So, with that, I thought, why not open up our doors and give you a glimpse of what happens behind the scenes of ShareGate’s marketing team while we work on one of our biggest campaigns of the year!

Creating a concept

Like any good strategy, you often start with a problem that needs solving. Here at ShareGate, we already have that solution.

We recently announced that we’re getting big on Microsoft Teams. As Teams becomes the centerpiece of Microsoft 365 collaboration, we see a growing need for additional migration, management, and security functionalities. 

But what’s the point in building new functionalities if your customers and audience don’t know about them? This is exactly why we decided to work on a new marketing campaign called “Better Together” (more on that later). 

Did you know? People remember 80% of what they see compared with 20% of what they read. source

Know your audience

Video strategy, like any marketing strategy, should address the needs of your audience.

ShareGate is recognized as a brand that connects with its audience and we want to live up to (and exceed) those expectations. We make a great effort to stay in touch, tuned in, cognizant of what is going on in the world of IT pros, and take into consideration the conversations already unfolding.

Always looking to create content that will “wow” our audience, we decided to research (A LOT of research!) to find the best cues possible. 

The IT crowd is a breed of its own. There’s a strong subculture with endless references only IT folks would understand. 

While we’ve grown to know IT pros over the years (and initially being IT pros ourselves), the dynamic with Microsoft Teams is still relatively new. We spent hours scouring forums, lurking Reddit, and conducting interviews to understand the reality of our audience when it came to Teams. And we got a goldmine of insights that we could reuse in the campaign concept. 

Things like common IT fears, pains, and frustrations that would make great subjects and references for funny, engaging content. Internal dilemmas, “particular” relations with specific departments, interesting dynamics with the C-level, and so on. We knew that if we were going to be successful, we needed our content to be relatable, and those insights were key to that. 

Questions we asked ourselves before making our video:

  • What is our audience concerned about? (needs)
  • What is our audience talking about? (trends)

We synthesized all the information and came up with a concept that represented the fears and dilemmas IT teams face daily once they implement Teams in their organizations. Hopefully, you can spot them and perhaps relate! With research and references in hand, we next had to align with our messaging. 

Quality video content starts with a well-written script

We knew what we wanted to add to the conversation in the IT industry. One point that came up repeatedly in our research was the inner struggle felt by IT professionals having to manage users’ freedom in Microsoft 365/Office 365. In other words, allowing users to create resources and share content themselves (aka “self-service”).

We learned that every IT pro understood the relevance of doing it, but they also saw the negatives. We were also told that it was a recurring source of discussion amongst IT teams. Not that the campaign or the product has to do specifically with self-service, but we decided to play on that interesting pain point and illustrate what was happening in the head of someone caught in that catch-22. 

With IT being pulled in opposite directions, ShareGate is the solution to ease the internal struggle by proposing its simple approach to the problem. Ultimately, we wanted people to understand that, just like Teams and ShareGate, both their inner need for control and free spirit are simply Better Together. Hence the name of this campaign. 

Behind The Scene Tournage
Behind the scenes of a film set at ShareGate offices

Working with the right people

As I’m sure you’ve learned in your professional career, surrounding yourself with the best people is key to success.

We decided to work with another Montreal-based company, KOZE, that provided the strategic video production expertise and experience we needed to turn our campaign idea into reality. We had the chance to work with them in the past and built a great working relationship due to our similar cultures. They’re the best when it comes to creating funny video campaigns. Finding the right partner, CHECK! 

Our audiences received last year’s campaign so well that we decided to keep a similar approach with our brand storytelling. You don’t change a winning recipe! We even brought back most of last year’s actors as they were a great fit. Perfect cast, CHECK!

Another essential part of a video campaign is the art direction. It’s what gives the videos and related content their personality. I don’t know much about creating good art direction, so here’s our in-house art director, Émie Ratté, to share her insights and creations for the campaign.

Émie on art direction:

Like every project I work on at ShareGate, I start with expanding the concept in my mind. I try to identify key elements that will help us turn this abstraction into something visual. In the case of this campaign, it was the characters that sparked the idea. I thought it would be great to create distinctive personalities for each of them and then use the Unreal Engine technology to build the world in their mind. 

My 8 years of experience at ShareGate, and the people I’ve met at tradeshows, helped me define the personalities that IT pros could identify with. I then created a mood board to make sure my vision was brought together and expressed cohesively so that the whole team could be on the same page. This mood board helped us define the visual environment of the videos. 

Illustrations are a big part of ShareGate’s brand, and campaigns are the occasions to explore and experiment with new things. I crafted a custom series of 3 sets of characters to use in the assets of the campaign (banner ads, thumbnails, website, etc.).

Our visual approach aims to accentuate the feelings we tackle in the videos and create a unique set of assets recognizable through our different touchpoints. We think it’s important to be consistent and make sure every piece of this campaign can be linked to the videos’ main content. And just like that, we have a very exclusive look for our project! 

Characters Illustrations
Illustrations of ShareGate’s Better Together campaign characters

Fun with the latest video technology

Concept clear, the team on board, and faced with a small challenge: how are we supposed to show what happens inside the characters’ minds? We always want to create top-quality content; however, we don’t work with Marvel-like budgets and technology. Luckily, our partners at KOZE had a few tricks up their sleeves.

We filmed in a studio that used Unreal Engine, a real-time 3D creation tool, and the same engine used to create immersive sets for triple-A level video games. Without getting too technical, it uses a “green room” instead of a “green screen” paired with led lights synced with a camera that allows you to include your subjects inside the environment rather than in front. Your subjects are also affected by the lighting and visual effects of the engine. The result is truly amazing and at a fraction of the cost. Take that Iron Man!

Unreal Environments
Unreal environments used for ShareGate’s Better Together campaign videos.

Now showing

The global shift to distributed work has changed marketing. Video is an ever-growing way of quickly connecting with our audience.

To recap, here are our simplified steps to planning an effective video campaign:

  1. Define your message and your solution
  2. Understand your audience (think needs + trends)
  3. Write an outline of the key ideas you want to convey
  4. Flesh out key ideas with points from research, anecdotes, or anything that connects with your audience on a personal level
  5. Surround yourself with a solid team that brings new thinking to the table 

We had a blast working on this project and we’re thrilled with the results. Now, without further ado, we hope you enjoy these videos as much as we had fun creating them! 

Better Together: Launching Microsoft Teams
Better Together: Microsoft Teams external sharing
Better Together: Microsoft Teams creation

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